“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27
The month of May is National Foster Care Month. And so it seems appropriate to talk once again about this subject that is so near and dear to my heart. If you get tired of reading about this, I can’t promise you it will get any better. As this world becomes more sin sick by the day, the need for foster care becomes greater. And when the needs of children become greater, I cannot help but want to carry their burdens for them. Their tired, sometimes bruised and broken little frames were not meant to carry the weightiness of the circumstances that bring them into care.
There is a shortage of good foster homes in this county, in this state, in the U.S, really. There just aren’t a ton of good options for DHS to turn to. Foster homes are full to capacity and as a result, are overcrowded. Kids sit in lobbies for hours on end while intake workers scramble to find a place for them. Once they find a shelter home, often, the conditions are makeshift at best. What choice does the agency have? The kiddo can’t spend the night in the DHS office. And so as a result, on top of being severely traumatized by just being removed from the home they know, safe or not, they end up immediately feeling unwanted, unloved and like a big burden.
And this is what KILLS me. Because of the special needs of my kiddos, especially my eldest, we are at capacity with the three children we have. I asked Shane the other day if he ever feels helpless to meet the need because we really can’t foster anymore. What he said next registered with me profoundly. “Honey, we can recruit. And I think we can be good at it.”
Without waxing political, I must say the following because I cannot detach my Christian values from the political climate in regards to social programs.
Conservatives (often Christians) are really good at decrying Welfare, and social programs in general because we shouldn’t be so dependent on the government. I agree.
But there is Someone who everyone on this entire planet should be dependent upon. And His name is Jesus. But how can people know that they can or should be dependent upon Him when they haven’t met Him?
We, as a Church, need to step it up. I believe where the government cannot, we should.
Here’s a thought. How about instead of just voting and legislating to limit these over-budget and over-burdened social programs, we them unnecessary and obsolete by meeting the needs within the loving arms of the Church instead? If we see the need, shouldn’t we be the ones who point people to the Source? The Answer?
Foster parenting is difficult. It’s scary. It takes everything out of you. You have to take training. The requirements set for you are much higher than that of the parents trying to get the kiddos back. You will get attached. You will deal with loss and grief. You will be the one watching as the child you care for is crying and longing for hugs from someone other than you. You may even be investigated for any number of reasons, which, from personal experience, is no picnic.
Have I convinced you with my mad recruiting skills yet??
Believe me, I’ve heard it all…“I could never do what you do…” or “I don’t feel called to do that…” and my personal favorite, “I’d get too attached.”
I am sorry, but in my heart, I do not believe that we as the Church can make these excuses anymore. They are just not valid reasons to not meet the desperate needs of a world who is longing for peace, restoration, protection and healing.
Isn’t it funny how when you are sick, or overweight, or shopping for something and you find a wonderful product how readily you share it? Essential oils, protein shakes, household cleaners, the list goes on. We are so proud to share our new found knowledge with our friends and family when it works.
So, what about Jesus?
His name repels some. Why is that? There is power in His name. But what often makes His name so repulsive is how we have claimed it and used it where it suits us but are not using it to go out and meet the desperate needs of a dying world around us.
Some feel that activism is the answer. Maybe we should legislate more, advocate more…OK, maybe. But we must be careful! It is so easy to turn these poor, hungry, empty people, often children, over into the hands of the government instead of into the nail-scarred hands of our Savior!
To be clear, I am not necessarily urging everyone who reads this to go out and get certified to foster. Foster care is, indeed, one of the many callings God has for His Church. What I am urging each one of you to do is to really and truly do some soul searching. DHS doesn’t need droves of people that are being guilted into doing this. What they do need is people that realize that it takes more than just commitment, more than just courage, and a clear realization that even when you love and love and give and give that it may not be returned.
We can’t be in this to have our needs met. We can’t be in any calling or ministry to have our needs met. We must minister to meet the needs of others. That’s what Jesus does for us.
In closing, I thought I’d share how I typically respond to the comments I listed above.
“I could never do what you do…”
Yes. Yes, you could. I told the Lord I couldn’t either. And He told me that I was never meant to do it alone. He never asked me to do it without His help.
“I don’t feel called to do that…”
Obedience isn’t about feelings, it’s about faith. Faith that the Lord will accomplish His plan and bless us enough to use us to do it. We are all called to do something for Him, but this is one of those needs that is specifically addressed in Scripture.
“I’d get too attached.”
Yes. Yes, you will. Don’t let that fear ever stop you from loving people who need the Lord. Don’t hold back! Give the child everything you have in you. Jesus did. He died for us while we were yet sinners. And He loves us knowing that we may never love Him back.
Remember, according to Scripture, the Church should be taking care of the fatherless and the widows. If you are part of the Church, please seriously consider the part you play in their care. If we are honestly, truly, taking that calling to heart, the government will have very few needs left to meet. And as the apostle James so beautifully elaborates, when we meet a physical need, it then opens a door to meet a much deeper longing in every human heart. A longing that only my dear, sweet Jesus can fill. When these beautiful children are placed in our care, we often, in addition to cuddles and warm meals, can provide them with their first introduction to Sunday school and its songs, daily family devotions, VBS, Christmas Programs and Jesus Himself!
Yes, ministry is hard and mission work is draining. But consider this. Jesus literally shed blood, sweat and tears for us. We owe Him nothing less in return.
Blessings and much love,
P.S. – Did this post speak to you? Has the Lord laid foster care on your heart, too? Let me know! I would be happy to find a way to get you connected to the right people to get started and I would be privileged to support you in prayer as you answer this high calling.